Internet provider aims to challenge ‘big four’ after securing £20m finance deal

Paul Stobart

A Rochdale-based internet provider aims to accelerate business growth and challenge the ‘big four’ telecoms providers after securing a £20m financing deal from NatWest Bank.

Zen Internet, the independently-owned telecommunications and technology service provider, said the new revolving credit facility from NatWest, led by Mike Malone, Kieran O’Malley and Martyn Lylyk, will allow significant investment into Zen’s network infrastructure, people and product offerings.

A Which? Recommended Broadband Provider, Zen will use the financing to accelerate growth as part of a five-year intensive strategy in a bid to challenge the ‘big four’ telecoms providers – delivering award-winning customer service and reliability to business and residential customers across the UK.

Mike Malone, director, structured finance, NatWest, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue our support for such an exciting company.

“Zen has a well-established track record and an ambitious growth strategy. We are pleased that we have been able to provide the financial support needed in order to deliver on its next phase of growth and support another exciting, high growth, locally based business.”

Paul Stobart, Zen Internet chief executive, said: “This is a very exciting time for everyone at Zen, including our customers and partners.

“As an organisation we will continue to focus on sustainable growth, rather than short term profit, ensuring that we do the right thing by our people, customers and partners.

“A portion of the funding will be used to refinance debt, whilst the balance will be reinvested into our network infrastructure, people and product offerings.

“We believe that through our exceptionally dedicated people, award-winning services and leadership, we are in a great place to do things differently and achieve our ambitious business targets over the next few years.”

Matt Kay, chief financial officer at Zen Internet, added: “NatWest has a proven track record of supporting Zen through previous growth periods and we look forward to continuing our great relationship during this exciting period.

“The latest financing agreement is the result of some excellent support from our advisors, KPMG, and our lawyers, Eversheds Sutherland.”

Nick Dodd, head of debt advisory for KPMG in the UK, said: “We’re very pleased for both Zen and NatWest for having agreed a funding solution that will provide the business with the right flexibility to deliver Zen’s ambitious growth plans.

“It has been a pleasure to advise Zen, given its exciting growth trajectory and strong commitment to its people, customers and the local community.”

As one of the first providers to sign up to Ofcom’s voluntary auto compensation scheme, Zen set itself apart from the competition by extending the scheme to channel partners and wholesale customers.

The company also launched an industry-first lifetime price guarantee – Price for Life – earlier this year. With the industry known for punishing customer loyalty with higher prices, Zen customers can rest assured that as long as they remain a customer that they will not see a price rise.

Zen was provided with financing advice by KPMG Debt Advisory (Nick Dodd, Meredith Casey, Neil Brown and Eddy Lanaghan).

Eversheds Sutherland’s Manchester office advised management as part of the deal through a team led by Jason Wurzal, with Addleshaw Goddard supporting NatWest.

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